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  • Neighbors listening in on cellphone calls

    What's involved for someone to listen in on a cellphone call? Is this available to the average Joe or would it require something quite sophisticated. I have a nosey neighbor who has a police scanner but lots of people have those. However, if it's available, I wouldn't put it past her. What do you know?
    :::

    Bill

  • #2
    In the days of analog, it was very easy to pick up cell phones and cordless phones with a police scanner. Not so much these days. As long as you are using digital wireless phones, you should be safe. If your cordless phones are digital spread spectrum, even better.
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    • #3
      Yeah... back in the 90s, one of my pals who'd been big into shortwave DXing when he was a kid found a Radio Shack scanner that was being liquidated (to make room for new scanners that had some of the consumer-use bands blocked)... he was in pig-heaven, listening in to the neighbors in his upscale doctor-ghetto neighborhood as they used their cordless phones and old analog mobiles... What was pretty funny was that, while he and his next-door neighbor refused to talk to each other (a fence dispute turned ugly) he could listen in on his phone conversations. Completely illegal and clearly unethical (and quite likely a violation of his own code of professional conduct which shall go nameless but needless to say, if a boatload of his fellow professionals sinks... well, you know the old joke.)
      .

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      • #4
        I worked for Radio Shack in the 90s and we used to pick up all kinds of wild stuff between the cell phones and all of the cordless phones in the apartment complex behind my store.
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        • #5
          I worked for Radio Shack in the 90s and we used to pick up all kinds of wild stuff between the cell phones and all of the cordless phones in the apartment complex behind my store.


          Hah, I did, too!

          I've owned scanners since the early 90's and they used to be able to pick up both cordless and cell. No longer, though, as most of it has been moved to frequencies that are either out of the range of the scan or that have been blocked on the newer models. I just tried signal stalking my cordless phone and nada. I still can pick up some cell with my oldest scanner (pre-block), but not much and I don't like to do that, even if it's just "for fun" (mainly I demonstrate to people how vunerable our communications are - particularly my wife who didn't believe in corded phones... before me, that is! ).

          Alas, the only thing I can hear in our neighbors house nowadays is the baby monitors - and we get enough of that through our own monitor, thankyouverymuch.

          FWIW, though, I do believe that radio scanners are just a small, yet essential part of our freedom in the US. Not that it really ever happens, but somebody should be able to keep an ear on the government. Most people don't realize how much of a (nerdy) privilege it is to have them. I've got three!!!
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          • #6
            Anyone with enough idle time on their hands to listen to my boring cell calls really needs to get a life.

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            • #7
              I work for a mental health center. The practice of listening in on phone calls is still enough of a problem that I have a policy of no client information mentioned on cell phones or cordless phones. You can still get mods for scanners that open up the frequencies. It was not long ago that a local policeman here had to resign after someone reported what they heard listening in on calls. Yes, listening in is illegal, but he still was forced to resign.
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              • #8
                Anyone with enough idle time on their hands to listen to my boring cell calls really needs to get a life.


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